March 4, 2018 – 3rd Sunday of Lent

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March 4, 2018

3rd Sunday of Lent


“Destroy this temple

and in three days I will raise it up.”



I am away on an 11 day mission trip to Guatemala, and I wanted to share with you some of the wonderful reasons I am participating in this trip.

In case you’re not familiar, Guatemala is the country just south of Mexico.  And the village I am staying at on this trip is called San Lucas Toliman.

Over the last 3+ years I have come to love Guatemala very much.  I first traveled there in the summer of 2014 when I went to study Spanish.  I had just been assigned to the church of Divine Mercy in Faribault, and I needed to be able to celebrate Mass in Spanish, so I went to Guatemala for six weeks of Spanish study.  Since that first trip, I have returned to Guatemala multiple times for more Spanish study and to lead mission trips.

Over this time, I had the opportunity to make friends, participate in the culture of the region, and visit many places.  The culture of Guatemala is very rich and full of tradition.  Especially noticeable in the region of Guatemala where I visited is the beautiful and colorful clothing of the people.  The women especially take great pride in their hand-woven clothing, which can take up to six months to complete one item, but it is the most beautiful clothing when completed.

Another highlight of this area is the great beauty of the landscape.  Most of Guatemala, and especially the region I am in, is very mountainous, formed by volcanoes and earthquakes.  Most of the volcanoes are now dead, but they have left behind a picturesque landscape.  Of particular beauty is Lake Atitlan, which is surrounded by three inactive volcanoes.  San Lucas, where I am staying, is located right next to this beautiful lake and at the base of one of the volcanoes.

Another highlight of my previous time in Guatemala has been the opportunity to visit and celebrate Mass at many small villages.  The church I stayed at on previous trips has about 30 little villages that the priests serve.  Some of these villages are so remote that a priest is only able to visit them about once a month.  I had the great privilege of visiting several of these villages for Mass.

When I return, I will give a presentation and explain all of this in greater detail.  Thank you for your prayers!

The current trip I am on is with students from the Newman Center at Mankato State University.  You can follow our blog at:


You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke


February 18, 2018 – 1st Sunday of Lent

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February 18, 2018

1st Sunday of Lent


“The Kingdom of God is at hand.

Repent ans believe in the Gospel.”


Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving

We have just entered the season of Lent—40 days of prayer and penance which help us to repent from sin and turn back to God.  And the Church gives us the spiritual practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as important ways to enter into this Lenten season.

As human beings we are composed of a body and a soul.  Our body and our soul work so closely together that what we do physically effects us spiritually, and vice versa.  This is why, for example, when we pray we often kneel down, close our eyes, and fold our hands, because this physical posture aids our prayer by giving it attention and focus.  The most important part of our prayer is the spiritual raising of our mind and heart to God, but it is so much easier to do this when our body is also in a posture of prayer.

This is also why we practice fasting and abstinence, because the physical denial of our bodily desires, such as for food, aids us in spiritual growth and in denying sinful desires.

St. Paul says, “Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God”.  We do this when we fast, for, we when we deny ourselves from eating food, the hunger our body experiences becomes a sacrifice for the Lord.

Additionally, fasting and abstinence make us grow in virtue by helping us learn self-denial and self-mastery.  For, when we deny ourselves from eating something, we master ourselves and our desire for food.  We show that we have control over our passions and desires.  Self-mastery is a very important virtue, for it helps us avoid sin in the future.  If we can say no to eating food when we are hungry, then we are more likely to be able to avoid sin when we are tempted.

One of the prayers during Lent acknowledges this purpose of fasting: For through bodily fasting you restrain our faults, raise up our minds, and bestow both virtue and its rewards.

Canon Law defines that Catholics from age 18 until age 59 are obliged to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal.  Two smaller meals may also be taken, but not to equal a full meal.  And abstinence from meat on Fridays must be observed by all Catholics from age 14 onwards.

Those who are pregnant, or nursing, or who are sick do not need to strictly follow the rules on fasting and abstinence.  Please ask me or another priest if you ever have any questions about this.

Almsgiving too is a very important spiritual practice for Lent.  Almsgiving embraces under the single name of mercy, not only financial giving, but many other works of charity as well, so that all the faithful, no matter their material wealth, are able to participate in almsgiving.  Thus, the rich, the poor, and those of average means, are able to play their part in almsgiving.  Those unequal in their capacity to give financially can be equal in the love within their hearts.

Consider the story of the Widow’s Mite, where she gave only two pennies, but Jesus said she gave more than all the others, because she gave what she could, whereas the others only gave from their surplus wealth.  Her almsgiving excelled the others because her love excelled the others.

The Church has great wisdom in teaching us to practice these important spiritual practices for Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke


February 11, 2018 – 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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February 11, 2018

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

World Marriage Day

World Day of the Sick


“I will do it.  Be made clean.”

Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross consist of 14 moments of the life of Jesus during his passion and death.

Some people are able to make a pilgrimage at some point in their life to the Holy Land, and actually follow the path Jesus walked through his suffering and death.  In other words, they can make the Stations of the Cross in the actual place where they happened.  I’ve had this wonderful privilege, and it is very powerful to walk where Christ walked, and pray where Christ suffered and died.

Many, however, are never able to make this pilgrimage in person, and certainly not regularly.  For this reason, churches began creating 14 memorials to represent the locations where these events in Jesus’ life happened, and the faithful may walk along these memorials, or stations, in memory of walking along with Jesus.  Thus, when we pray the Stations of the Cross, we spiritually walk and pray with Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem.

We can pray the Stations of the Cross during any time of the year, but it is particularly appropriate for the season of Lent when we meditate more specifically on our sinfulness which led Christ to undergo his passion and death.  We are familiar with praying the Stations of the Cross at church as a community, but we can also meditate on the stations of the cross anytime during our prayer time.  You can easily lookup the Stations of the Cross online.

Catholics are familiar with the idea of “giving something up” for Lent.  Giving up things like chocolate are good for us because it helps us grow in virtue and offer this small penance to Jesus as a sacrifice.  I encourage not only “giving something up”, but also “doing something extra” for Jesus during Lent.  It could be praying more, saying the rosary, going to daily Mass once a week, etc.  For the last several years, I have made a commitment during Lent to do the Stations of the Cross every day.  It is powerful to meditate daily during Lent on Jesus’ suffering and death, and to think of how he did that for me.

Whether or not you also try to pray the stations of the cross daily, I do hope you attend the Stations of the Cross here at church on the Fridays of Lent.

During the Stations of the Cross on Fridays, we will have a time of Eucharistic Adoration.  I will expose the Eucharist, then proceed to do the Stations as usual, and then conclude with Benediction.  (We will do adoration during Stations every Friday during Lent except for the two Fridays when I will be absent, those Fridays the Stations will be prayed but there will not be Adoration.)

I’ll conclude with the prayer of St. Alphonsus Liguori for the Stations of the Cross (which I love and pray daily in my own prayer time).  I love you Jesus my love.  I love you more than myself.  I repent with my whole heart from ever having offended you.  Never let me offend you again, grant that I may love you always, and then do with me as you will.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

February 4, 2018 – 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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February 4, 2018

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time


“Let us go to the nearby villages that I may preach there also.

For this purpose I have come.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Catholic Services Appeal

The 2018 Catholic Services Appeal, conducted by the Catholic Services Appeal Foundation, will take place next weekend, February 10th & 11th, and I am asking for your support.  The Catholic Services Appeal is the way in which the Collective Ministries in this Archdiocese are funded.

Your gift to the Catholic Services Appeal Foundation is restricted for the benefit of the 18 Collective Ministries within our Archdiocese.  Some of these ministries include helping the homeless, the hungry, the imprisoned, students in financial need, seminarians, and many others.  These Designated Ministries cannot be funded on their own or by any one single parish but rather need support from all of us.

Last year’s (2017) Catholic Services Appeal hit our goal of $9.3 million.  It was an outstanding year and the CSA was able to pay all of the Designated Ministries in full.  For the 2018 CSA, the goal has been increased slightly to $9.8 million.  If we all join together and everyone pledges something, we can make this goal a reality.

Some of the Designated Ministries that are particularly close to my heart are the Seminaries, and the Archdiocesan Office of Marriage, Family, and Life.  Our two seminaries—St. John Vianney College Seminary, and the Saint Paul Seminary—are two of the best in the country.  I was so blessed to be able to attend both seminaries, and am very supportive of them.  Additionally, the office of Marriage, Family, and Life provides several important programs or opportunities for our Archdiocese.  They put on an excellent monthly marriage seminar for couples preparing for marriage (which our engaged couples benefit from), and they also support many pro-life opportunities, including a Life Fund to help needy mothers, and sponsoring a trip to the March for Life in Washington DC.

You may have already received a CSA mailing at your home.  Feel free to mail that in, or you can fill out a giving envelope at Mass next weekend.

I wholeheartedly support this Appeal and will be making my personal pledge to it.  I am calling on you to join me in doing our part so that these important ministries in this Archdiocese can be fully funded.  Please be assured of my gratitude for your participation.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

January 28, 2018 – 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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January 28, 2018

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Catholic Schools Week Begins!

”Quiet!  Come out of him!”



Catholic Schools

The purpose of our Catholic School is to form saints and citizens in partnership with families.

Saints: Individuals who know and love Jesus and his Church.  Our goal in life is to get to heaven.  But we don’t get to heaven by accident, nor by just being a “good person”.  We get to heaven by God’s grace living in us and sanctifying us, in other words, by being a saint.

Good Citizens: Individuals who have virtue, can think critically, and seek truth. It is rare that modern education teaches the young morality and virtue.  However, without these, we have nothing to guide us and lead us in the right direction; rather, we are directed simply by our own passions and desires, and strive solely for what we think we want, rather than what God wants and what is best for the good of all society.  The development of virtue and critical thinking that teaches us how to seek the truth and find it is essential to being a good citizen.

In Partnership with Families: Education of children is essentially a partnership between the Church and the parents of the child.  Neither one nor the other alone can fulfill this responsibility.  The Church has always taught that

Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators”.  In addition, “in a special way, the duty of educating belongs to the Church, … [especially by] communicating the life of Christ to those who believe”.

This partnership between the parents and the Church is essential if the faith will be taught and strongly take root in the child’s life.

I believe Catholic Education is the best option for most families who truly want to pass on the faith to their children, because the Catholic School tirelessly works in partnership with the parents, re-enforcing the faith and the virtues that parents seek to teach.

Why I love Holy Cross:

  • Weekly Mass (in school)
  • Daily prayer (in school)
  • Learn about Jesus (in school)
  • Incorporate a Catholic worldview into every area of study, and teach our students how to integrate their faith into their daily lives, not separate them.

For these reasons, in addition to an excellent education in all subject matters, I personally encourage all parishioners of Immaculate Conception to consider sending your children to our wonderful school: Holy Cross.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

Bingo – Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018

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Please join us for our annual Parish Family Bingo on Sunday, January 21! Bring the whole family for a Sunday afternoon of fun, food and prizes. Invite your family and neighbors – everyone is welcome!

Bingo will be held in the Crusader Civic Center.

11:00am – lunch is available for purchase

Bingo games start at 12:00pm. Play bingo all afternoon for a cover charge of $3.00. Extra cards are available for $0.50 each.

Sponsored by the IC-CCW.

January 21, 2018 – 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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 January 21, 2018

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”


Praying for Life

Tomorrow, January 22nd, we remember the 45th anniversary of the horrific supreme court decision Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States.  For this reason, this day has become an important day of prayer and demonstration for the protection of life from conception until natural death.  I want to personally invite the entire parish to join me at two opportunities to support life:

Sunday, January 21st, we will have a Holy Hour at St. Nicholas from 4-5pm to pray for life.  We will pray together for those who have been wounded by abortion, for respect for the dignity of human life from conception to natural death, and that those who govern us may be guided by justice, truth, and a love for the gift of life.  (Come over after Bingo ; )

Monday, January 22nd, is the rally at the St. Paul Cathedral and Minnesota State Capital.  It begins with a prayer service at the Cathedral at 10:30am, followed by a rally at the Capital at noon.

Planned Parenthood just released their 2016-2017 annual report, and it shows that they committed 321,384 abortions last year alone.  That’s nearly 1/3 of a million people whose smiles we will never see, whose talents we will never know, and who will never have the opportunity in this world to love and be loved as a creature created in the image and likeness of God.

But more than that, Planned Parenthood alone is responsible for the deaths of over 7.6 million human babies since it legally began performing abortions in 1973 following Roe. vs. Wade.  And we, the US Taxpayers, were forced to give Planned Parenthood more than $543 million dollars last year to carry out their “business”.

We need to continue praying for life, for the day when life will again be respected in our world from conception until natural death.

One of my favorite Christian music groups is Casting Crowns.  And on their Christmas CD, (which I think is the best ever), they have one song that came to mind in particular as I was thinking about this topic of praying for life.  The song is called “While you were sleeping”, and talks about how Bethlehem missed recognizing Jesus because it was “sleeping”, and there was no room in the inn.  It then goes on to ask if the United States too is sleeping and will miss Jesus.

In particular, the song has a line that says, “…while we’re sound to sleep by philosophies of save the trees and kill the children…”  Our culture has done a great job of convincing us to protect the trees and the rest of the planet, but it has neglected those who should be the most treasured in our world: children, including the unborn.

Please join me at the upcoming prayer opportunities for life, and perhaps more importantly, please add to your daily prayers a prayer for the protection of life in our world.

You are in my daily prayers too.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

January 14, 2018 – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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January 14, 2018

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Behold, the Lamb of God.”

Introducing: Encounter

I’m very excited to announce this weekend a new parish opportunity I have been looking forward to starting since I arrived.  On Friday, January 26th, we will host our very first parish adoration event called: Encounter.

Growing up, Eucharistic Adoration, especially with music and communal prayer, was a very powerful way that I encountered God and experienced His love.  My hope is that many of you will attend this event and also experience God’s presence and love for you in a powerful way.

Encounter will be a time of Eucharistic Adoration, but perhaps in a way you have never experienced before.  There will be praise and worship music played.  And for this first event, not only will I be playing, but some friends of mine will be joining me to help lead very beautiful music.

There will be many, many candles, making a very beautiful, prayerful, and meditative atmosphere.

And we will conclude with Benediction, including bells and incense and all.

Encounter is open to all.  I hope young and old, families and singles, will all attend this wonderful event.

A few weeks ago, Fr. Barnes and I did a pulpit swap to talk about adoration and encourage our parishes to participate in this wonderful opportunity to be with Jesus.  I hope you take advantage of this time to spend with the Lord and encounter his love.  Encounter will be held monthly (on the 4th Friday when possible).

I hope you will plan to attend.  And please invite your friends (even non-parishioners and non-Catholics may attend!)


Friday, January 26th


IC Church

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

January 7, 2018 – The Epiphany of the Lord

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January 7, 2018

The Epiphany of the Lord


“Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”


Upcoming Opportunities

We have some exciting youth and all-parish opportunities coming up.

High school youth group

Our next high school youth group will be on Sunday, January 21st, from 5-8pm at St. Nicholas.  These nights are a lot of fun and include sports, food, prayer, and Q&A with the priests!  All high school teens are welcome to attend.

Middle school youth group

The next middle school youth group will be on Friday, January 19th, from 5-6:30pm at St. Nicholas.  These are even more crazy fun than high school youth group!  Come and get energized and enjoy time with other middle schoolers.

Pro-Life events

January 22nd is the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States.  For this reason, this day has become an important day of prayer and demonstration for the protection of life from conception until natural death.  I want to personally invite the entire parish to join me at two opportunities to support life:

Sunday, January 21st, we will have a Holy Hour at St. Nicholas from 4-5pm to pray for life.

Monday, January 22nd, is the rally at the St. Paul Cathedral and Minnesota State Capital.  It begins with a prayer service at the Cathedral at 10:30am, followed by a rally at the Capital at noon.

We are working to coordinate a bus to the events at the Cathedral and Capital, so stay tuned for more information.  But be sure to mark it on your calendars right away.

It is very important that we participate in pro-life events like this.  Thankfully we are starting to see that the attitude in our country toward abortion is slowly changing!  And we need to keep praying, and keep showing our support for life by attending events like these.

That fact is, especially in an online world like we live in today, what we believe and stand up for doesn’t matter so much by what we claim we believe, or what we post on Facebook, rather, we show what we believe with our feet: Am I willing to show up to pray for this or to demonstrate for this?  (Or even more: To suffer for this in the January cold?)  Anyone can post their view online in a few seconds, but we prove that we are serious about it when we actually show up.

I ask that you please make these pro-life events a priority, and join me as we pray and demonstrate for life.


You are in my daily prayers.


God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke